Ethereal Stories: Air between the ears

Steven, a father-to-son unicorn breeder for 18 generations, was upset. The breeding season was not looking good, but then not good at all.
Already, Lucette had started making milk way too soon—all that wasted colostrum was frustrating. And then, for a few months, they had all had aberrant requirements for their end of gestation. Strawberries in the middle of winter, a great classic, it was just the warm-up; afterwards, we had moved on to a cup of eternal snow sprinkled with Aji Charapita peppers picked on a full moon night, or three grams of cerberus skin diluted in original fruit compote, these kinds of little cravings that are easy to satisfy.
Steven had been limping since his encounter with the Cerberus in question, he had been bitten by a snake and was still nursing his chilblains; frankly, he was sick of it. On the verge of dropping everything to convert to a quieter job, Steven. Anything would do, horn polisher for Minotaurs or toilet paper keeper in a supermarket, anything. He sighed. He needed air, that’s all.

— Steven, have you finished changing my litter?
— No, Leontine, not yet.
— So, what are you doing daydreaming on your pitchfork? These edelweiss are not going to distribute themselves!
— Yes, Leontine.

Nah, frankly, there was no worse job than raising unicorns. Especially since they had unionized. In Grandpa Robert’s time, they would never have dared to ask for anything other than straw in their unicorn boxes. Edelweiss, frankly! The price per kilo was staggering, and it didn’t absorb anything, either! Steven suspected them of testing his resilience. Or his bank account.
And then what an idea, frankly, to breed creatures whose gestation time is twenty-two years. Twenty-two years ! We had time to clean out the boxes before having the privilege of seeing a unicorn!
Fortunately, unicorn hair sold very well on the black market. As long as they didn’t find out, he could easily avoid bankruptcy.

— Steven, tell me, with the friends we would have liked to try…
Steven, sweating from the effort of stirring the edelweiss, painfully sat up and barked:
— What now ?
— Still ? How so again? We didn’t ask you today!

Steven opened his mouth to deliver a scathing repartee, then snapped it dryly. Appealing to Lorette’s intellect was a bad idea; it had been fallow for a good two centuries already, apparently. Arguing with her was like playing chess with a pigeon; no matter your level, the pigeon will just knock over all the pieces, shit on the board and proudly strut around like it’s won.
Steven sighed; Lorette pinched her nostrils and continued, stubbornly:

— With the friends, we would like to test the Kangoo Jump.
— The what?
— The Kangoo Jump, you know, the springs you put under your feet? We saw that on TV.

Ah, yes, TV. Installing the small screen for them in the stables was not the idea of the century, it was confirmed day after day. Fearing the worst, he followed the matriarch to the TV, then waited for the commercial to agree to reappear. Between two day creams with Aloe Vera, he finally discovered the machine, terrified.

— But… it’s for humans!
— You’ll manage to adapt that to our clogs.
— And have you seen the price? You need four of them!
— Yeah, oh, it’s not that bad. We will each do it in turn.
— And you’re sure it’s a great idea, at the end of gestation, like that? Aren’t you supposed to preserve yourselves, be reasonable?

Lucette contented herself with staring at him in silence. All the air from the Himalayas circulated between his two ears, without encountering the slightest neural obstacle. Steven lost himself in the visualization of a snow-white pigeon, decked out in a golden horn, trying to move a chess pawn. He snorted to come back to reality, ran a sweaty hand over his face and capitulated:
— Pink or blue, the Kangoo Jump?

***

— Hiiiii look, Steven, they are there!
— Yeah, great, wow…
Insensitive to the overflowing enthusiasm of their breeder, the unicorns jostled around the box just placed in front of the stables. The air sparkled, filled with the sequins they let loose in their glee.
— Go Steven, opeeeeeeeen!
Obviously, it was up to him to do all the work, since they were incapable of holding scissors, these devils. He tore open the tape and pulled the coveted items out of their cases, like Arthur pulling Excalibur from the rock. A ray of sunlight illuminated the pearly purple of the shoes. The unicorns sighed together, conquered.
— Well, you have drawn lots who will start?
The tension rose suddenly. Steven realized that several unicorns bore traces of hoof kicks, even bite marks. His instinct for survival screamed death; he raised his arms and bellowed, just in time to avoid the carnage:
— OKEYYYYYYYYYY, calm down, it’s up to me! And the first that jostles me will go last!
They stopped.
— Splash, splash, you’ll be the one to start, one, two, thriiiiiiiii… Lisa-Rose!
— But…
— And all those who discuss will be deprived of compote tonight!
Thirty-four adult unicorns sulked, while young Lisa-Rose waddled contentedly. Steven stuffed the toes of the shoes with cotton, then equipped the unicorn with the Kangoo Jump.

— Above all, be careful, huh?
— Yes yes…
— Don’t go too fast or too far… watch out for the lake…
— But yes…
— And if anything happens, you come get me, huh?
She rushed forward without deigning to answer, dropping sequins and rainbows, hopping even more as she passed in front of her upset comrades.
— That’s awesome!

Steven, reassured by his apparent balance, went back to shoveling his edelweiss. It was Loralie who came to alert him, about twenty minutes later.
— Steven? Lisa-Rose still hasn’t come back, and yet it’s our turn! She cheats!
Steven frowned.
— Let’s not be too quick to judge. Where did she go?
— In the forest ! To hide and go on all afternoon, I’m sure! She cheeps!
Leaving Loralie to her pigeonish hysteria, Steven went in search of the big offender.
— Lisa-Roooooose! Youhou, Lisa-Roooooose!
After a few minutes of fruitless searching, he twisted slightly and put his hand over his mouth to change the sound of his voice:

— The stupid-unicorn is called to the reception, I repeat, the stupid-unicorn is called to the reception!
Her hysterical laughter made all the birds in the area fly away.
— Hey, Steven, it’s not very nice to call me that…
— Lisa-Rose? But where are you ? I do not see you !

— Look higher.
Steven looked up and launched into a very interesting part of “Where’s Wally.” Searching for a white animal in a birch forest, frankly… A burst of purple color caught his eye on the only ash tree in the corner. Lisa-Rose hung from a branch, her legs dangling, her horn deeply planted in the gnarled wood.
— Steven…Steven! Can you stop laughing for five minutes, please?
The rancher wiped away his tears and stood up. Unable to keep his seriousness, he fell back into laughter.

— STEVEN!
— Yes, yes Lisa-Rose, sorry.
— You come look for me ?
His voice broken by his efforts, he shook his head no, then explained to her:
— First I’m going to need to go back to the stables for a ladder and a saw. I’m coming back, above all, don’t move!
He gave her a bright smile and walked back to the building. Before getting her out of there, he had one urgent thing to do: order two pairs of Kangoo Jump for each unicorn present at the breeding, as well as a camera.
The week was going to be fun, after all.

The legend of Lilfire

This week, I’m bringing you something a little different than usual. My cousin Alice had an accident. She’s fine but she has a broken leg and was entitled to a long recovery time so to keep her busy I offered her a little collaboration. She illustrated this story and the story you are about to discover was written by our four hands.

The story is a bit more childish than usual but I hope you’ ‘ll enjoy it.

The legend of Lilfire

Lilfire stomped forward. He had just argued with his father again: Burninflame was a 625-year-old Great Ruby Dragon and he couldn’t stand that his youngest son didn’t have a job.
“Learn from your brothers!” Roarloud has worked at the forge since he was 193 years old. When Fierelmet enlisted in the royal guard, he was just 181 years old. Even Brurn found a job at the mine before he turned 207! And you, at 212, you’re still here!
Lilfire would have liked to make his father proud of him, but he was not like his brothers. He wasn’t tall and muscular, and his flames were barely enough to start a wood fire. Every time he applied somewhere, a stronger dragon got the job.
When he passed the forge, Roarloud called out to him.
“Fuck it!” Did you argue with Dad again? Anyway, I have good news. I registered you.
Lilfire grabbed the yellowed sheet her brother held out to her, on which was written in gold letters:
“Hear, hear dragons and dragons!”
The king is looking for a dragon to defend his treasure. In order to choose the strongest among you, a big sports competition is organized. At the end of the latter, the dragon with the best score will have the immense honor of becoming the guardian of the royal treasure.
If you are over 180, register with the palace steward. »
Roarloud had signed him up for a sports competition. Organized by the king himself, what’s more. And that was supposed to be good news…
“Roarloud, I can’t go. I will make a fool of myself. What would I do in a sports competition?
“I’ll train you!” And then imagine how happy Daddy would be if you won!
“But I will never win!”
There’s only one way to find out…

They had a month to prepare Lilfire for the tests of the competition: acrobatic flight with a block of stone, camouflage, spitting fire on moving targets, and finally, the fight against knights. Unlike his brother, Lilfire was far from optimistic. They started with camouflage since it was the only test he felt capable of tackling. Indeed, he had inherited his mother’s dark gray scales, which made him look like a big rock.
For the other events, Roarloud called upon the skills of Brurn and Fierelmet in order to prepare Lilfire as well as possible. Brurn for bodybuilding and endurance, Fierelmet for combat techniques; himself would take care of the fire-spitting.
With such a demanding training and such demanding teachers, Lilfire did not see the time passing and one morning, without warning, the sun rose on the first day of the competition.

A colorful crowd crowded the drawbridge to enter the huge arena of the castle. Wooden bleachers stood all around, set up for the occasion.
Five large rocks were arranged in a circle in the center of the arena. Lilfire paid no heed to the cheers of the crowd and headed straight for them. Four other dragons did the same. Lilfire didn’t dare meet their eyes, he concentrated on his block and remembered his choreography. He had to keep his rock in the air for more than three minutes by performing as many tricks as possible to score points. A sound of the gong announced the start of the test. All the dragons took off at the same time, except Lilfire.
He climbed on his rock, dug his claws into the roughness of the rock and flapped his wings. Gradually he rose. During this time the other dragons had stung to recover their block helped by their momentum. Lilfire, meanwhile, continued to climb. When he was about six meters above the ground, he dropped his rock. He flew another ten meters and swooped down after the huge stone. He passed her, spun around and picked her up on her back. The shock took his breath away and nearly knocked him off balance. He hovered for a few moments then, mobilizing his last strength, did a loop. The boulder fell right back to where it started and Lilfire landed right behind it. Another sound of the gong announced the end of the first round.

A huge blackboard had been set up to record the scores. For each event, the first earned 50 points, the second 40 and so on. When Lilfire looked up at the painting, he couldn’t believe his eyes. Missia, a female mole who failed to lift her boulder, was last with 10 points. Feurlet, a dragon with electric blue scales, followed her with 20 points. Foudre, another dazzling golden female, was third with 30 points, while Veryfierce, a large pine green male, won the class with 50 points. Lilfire was therefore second and gained 40 points. Unbelievable !

For the rest, a section of the arena had been dismantled, so that it was now open to the forest. The camouflage test was simple: the dragons had one minute to blend into the landscape. The first to be seen lost. The five competitors lined up at the edge of the forest, and, at the sound of the gong, dashed between the trees.
Missia, who thanks to her dull dress had blended in with the earth, came second. Veryfierce, who had melted into the foliage of the trees, finished third. Lightning with his golden scales was the penultimate, ahead of Feurlet and his dazzling blue cuirass. Lilfire, transformed into a rock, won the test. He was now leading the competition with 90 points! He couldn’t believe it.
But his joy quickly waned. The last two trials to come were the ones he dreaded the most.

Thirty yards from the five dragons, targets were mounted on rails.
Feurlet passed first and hit seven out of ten targets. Veryfierce burned nine, Missia five. Lightning burned them all at once. It was Lilfire’s turn. The sound of the gong startled him. He inflated his chest to the maximum, felt his fire pocket fill up and spat as hard as he could. He didn’t hit any targets.
However, he didn’t have time to mope because he already had to prepare for the last test, the fight.

Lilfire was the second to pass. Three knights in armor were waiting for him on the sand. At the sound of the gong, the first, equipped with a flail and a shield, threw himself on him. Lilfire curled up on himself and leapt above his opponent, without the flail touching him. He landed right next to the second knight who was pointing a spiked spear at him. He mowed it down with a swipe of his paw, while sweeping the first one with his tail. Seeing his two teammates on the ground, the third, armed with two long swords, slowly backed away. He was trying to buy time to allow the others to get up. Lilfire didn’t let this fool her and instead of attacking her directly, he knocked out the other two once and for all. Alone with his two swords, the last knight rushed at Lilfire. As Fierelmet had taught him, he blew out a thick plume of smoke from his nostrils to blind his opponent before ripping his swords off with a sharp claw movement and putting him out of action.

The king stood upright on the dais as he addressed the crowd to close the competition.
“At the end of this historic sporting competition we have a happy winner! I would like to congratulate you all for the magnificent show you have given us. Without further ado, the name of the new guardian of my royal treasure: Veryfierce! Congratulations ! »
The crowd cheered cheerfully but the king resumed, silencing the cheers.
“However, my dear friends, he was not the only one to impress us! Another competitor stood out for his originality and above all for his vigor in combat. Thus, I decided to reward also the second of this competition. You see, my daughter, Princess Iloa, needs a valiant protector. So I designate Lilfire as Princess Iloa’s official bodyguard! Kudos to him! »
Lilfire choked at this announcement. Roarloud at his side gave him a strong slap on the back to congratulate him. Fierelmet and Brurn spat flames into the sky to proclaim their joy. The crowd cheered him and Veryfierce, and among all these people, Lilfire saw a large ruby ​​dragon. Burninflame looked at him and in his eyes shone a gleam of pride.


Alice is 16 (well soon 17 years old) but she is already quite a talented artist. She just start her blog but I know it, there will be soon tones of good sketches and photos and other amazing things. If you wanna discover her univers, please go check her blog :

https://gribouillesketchbook.wordpress.com/

Ethereal Stories: The Song of the Bats

Earth is fucked. In Joshua’s opinion, there is nothing to salvage. The fields are dry, the limestone soil aborts its young before they bud. The sick sun only gives the city a handful of hours a day – or what’s left of it – to feed the plants. Either way, his meager heat isn’t enough to stimulate their wrinkled leaves. The stems lengthen desperately, the shoots become exhausted and spread out the better to return to the earth.
Since the Fall, this planet is nothing more than a big corpse.

— I disagree.
An old plastic bag full of dirt in hand, Eli shakes his head.
— There are solutions, he insists.
— Are you talking about your garden on the third floor?
— That works. I grow more and more stuff.

The third is the last part of the building that did not collapse. The walls are torn without logic, like cutting a sheet by pulling on its ends. It is reached by a staircase that lets in the rain – when it deigns to fall. Eli requisitioned it to start a vegetable garden there and, since then, it has disappeared for hours over his head. Joshua doesn’t care. He takes the opportunity to read old books that he collects from the common library, when he’s not fixing something old or testing his connection. In vain. Few still manage to access the NewWeb today.

— Hey, Josh.
— What ?
— You would not want to let go of your machines, sometimes?

His machines. That’s what Eli calls his tampered radio and the computer he managed to revive. With the energy he diverts, he manages to light them for an hour a day. It’s little, it doesn’t do him much good. But that’s all he has left of his great pre-Fall passion.

— Why ?
— I have something to show you.
Joshua shrugs. He abandons his things to get up.
— Can you take the pallets by the way?

He catches them without answering. The weathered wood is clear against its black skin. He strokes it briefly to check for splinters, then he loads them onto his shoulders. He is muscular, much more than Eli. Even if he never did anything for it.
Joshua has always preferred the silence of a bedroom to the sun of a summer day. It never really worked before. It was… complicated. It’s always been complicated. He is one of those who welcomed the end of the world with relief.
He climbs the stairs at his own pace. Outside, dusk awaits him. If the building they are squatting in was once a proud building, it is now nothing more than an amputated pillar. Broken walls and, in the middle, a pile of pots and planters where Eli spreads his plants.

— You can put it there.
Joshua drops his weight.
— Come.

He does not understand what the other expects of him. He was never good at gardening. If he tried to pull a shoot from his soil, he would probably break the stem. When he wants to water them, he drowns them, and he can’t guess what disease is turning their green leaves into funny yellow spots. No, Joshua does not understand plants. Their nature intimidates him.
But he likes the little cries of bats that rise as night falls.

— Eli?
— It’s over there.

He sees her blonde hair fluttering on her neck. Cut with tears, the rough locks are surly forms. Like leaves scorched by the sun. When he passes his hand over it, the material reminds him of the dead earth they tread on every day. This too hard soil where nothing grows anymore.
Almost nothing.
Every time he looks out the window, he sees only a dry world that is dying. He does not understand why Eli strives to plant his little seeds. Even if he likes the shape of the leaves of the tomato plants.

— here.
An empty dirt container. Good.
— Looked.

Since he’s the one asking, Joshua leans down unbelievingly. He observes and looks at this soft and humid matter which seems to be moving. She swarms. Move of his own volition. It’s weird, but he understands better what is going on by discerning the pink shapes which move in the middle of each other.

— What’s this ?
— Earthworms.
— It’s ugly.

Elijah laughs. His voice, more powerful than his, explodes in the night.

— It’s not made to be beautiful.
— It’s sticky.

Of course, Joshua knows earthworms. He’s seen it a long time ago. Several years.

— And it’s crawling.
— I say. It’s not very pretty to see.
— Why are you putting them there?
— For the compost.

Compost. He’s heard that word many times, but he realizes he doesn’t really know the definition. Compost. It looks like compote. Except he doesn’t want to bite it.

— I do not understand.

He never understands gardening, anyway. And he doesn’t understand why that makes Eli smile either. Instead, he would be offended.

— It’s for growing plants. To feed them.
— And after ?
— There is no after. We mix it with the soil and wait for it to grow.

He takes his hand to drag him to his pots. Not those who sleep outside, no. Those in the big greenhouse. Where he sees two small green circles which are probably future tomatoes.

— That’s life.

— It’s plants.

— Exactly.

Eli strokes the ceramic rim of a pot. Joshua does not imitate him. He hates this material which catches his fingers.

— We haven’t been able to plant anything for years now. The fields are bursting. But that… That, that pushed. With a little effort and patience.
He caresses the underside of an incredibly green leaf.

— Of course it’s nothing compared to what we could do before. It takes time and we don’t even have enough to eat. But it pushes.

There are zucchini, more, far. Their long serrated leaves make it think of teeth. Those of bats.
Joshua is very fond of bats. The curled up cocoon that their bodies form when they hide in an old parasol. Looks like a twisted seed ready to bloom.

— What are the worms for? he asks, pointing to the tray.
— It enriches the soil. They aerate the earth by digging holes, it also promotes the penetration of water, and… It’s complicated to explain, but that’s why the earth isn’t completely punctured.
Aeration, enrichment. It’s fuzzy in Joshua’s head, but Eli says it with such conviction. He sees him running off to grab a book – a big, heavy book with a cracked spine.

— I picked this up at the Chardons bookstore. Must believe that gardening did not interest the looters, he explains by turning the pages. There are things to do. Even if it’s shit, we can still grow plants, Josh.
He catches her eye. Eli has eyes that are too blue, clear as a glass of water. Eyes that can’t lie.
— And as long as you can grow plants, there’s life.

A gust of wind stirs the leaves around them. Those of the shoots that do not sleep in the greenhouse, under artificial lights. Joshua scans the material they have amassed here. These treasures that they struggle to keep alive with their stolen generator.
These little lives that sink their roots into a black earth.

— Maybe.

Most of the time, he doubts that anyone will ever be able to grow as many stems out of the ground as they need. He got used to old cans found in an abandoned apartment that hasn’t been stripped yet. But when Eli’s gaze lights up for a sprout that points the tip of its muzzle, it’s stronger than him.
He finds himself hoping.

The color of water

Today is suicide prevention day. Following the suicide of a friend some years ago, I told you about my attempt. Today I just take this opportunity to pay homage to her with this little unpretentious fiction.

The color of water

Jeg savner dig så meget

The water seemed beautiful to her, Maggie planted her tiptoe there. After three long hours of walking under the August sun punctuated by her brother’s grunts, she wanted more than anything to dive there into this transparency: to wash her body of the sweat that ran from her neck to her lower back. and the head under water, not to hear any more its jeremiads. The picnic and the first hike traditionally marked the beginning of a family summer vacation.

The Copenhagen apartment abandoned for two weeks, a journey traced, organized, timed, from the month of January by the mother had begun. But from summer to summer, disconnecting from everyday life became less easy. Parents always found an excuse to check their emails, from work or parent-teacher associations, whatever! Thomas anchored his headphones to his ears at length, only Maggie survived without wires, connected only to the nature around her, looking up at the peaks and the foliage, listening to those of the birds which did not fly away frightened by the disputes about the next stage chosen… She walked with her eyes in the green, in search of a soothing rhythm, her head still too full of the metallic noises of the city.

No need to strive to carry on any conversation whatsoever during this forced march; and then anyway, with Thomas, no more discussion was possible: paradoxically, he seemed to be angry with the whole world since he had won the congratulations of the jury in the final exams of “Gymnasium”*, and the earth whole, it started with her twin who she had only just passed her exam in June. Their aspirations were like disjointed without them really realizing it themselves.

The young girl brought up the rear because she was lingering longer. “Stop hanging around, slug! his father had repeated all morning. Maggie no longer heard, she breathed in, inhaled the smell of dry thorns and smiled at the butterflies in the tall grass, trying to guess the shape of the pebbles under her shoes. Why come this far if it was to run again? In order to be able to hold forth in society in September: we swallowed so many kilometers, on a terrible drop in altitude in less than a fortnight! Competition was the very essence of his parents. We didn’t play tennis: we had to be ranked; we didn’t cook: we made the recipes of the great chefs; we didn’t play the piano: we went to the conservatory…

They had settled down under the welcoming and generous shade of an umbrella pine. Her mother’s pride would come out of her backpacks: terrines, a seasonal vanilla fruit tart, an organic fruit juice, nothing but homemade! So Thomas might grumble that he would have preferred a sandwich, crisps and coke.
Maggie was not hungry. She took off her oversized T-shirt and her sports pants, put them next to her shoes. She entered the wave gradually, she seemed afraid to disturb the clear and soft expanse that enveloped her and engulfed her as delicately as a silk blanket, her silhouette was so frail. The young girl swam in apnea as long as she could, underwater, her weight vanishing. When she stuck her head out, she was halfway between the two banks.

She stared on her back then sat up to scrutinize the couple formed by her parents. Neither of them spoke or touched. Like the evenings in the living room. Like the mornings in the kitchen. They exchanged only in the presence of the weekend guests transformed in spite of themselves into relays of the conjugal word a formidable couple, Erik and Cathie! They are on all fronts, everything is successful for them, nothing ever frightens them, nothing is impossible! Cathie had double the work, you think with twins!

Thomas, giving in to his perpetual bad mood, had dissociated himself from the now ill-matched duo, sitting on a dead trunk lying down; she could only make out his already hunched back. She turned and in a slow breaststroke headed for the opposite sandy edge. The more she moved away from them, the more her breathing calmed down. Her heart seemed to be beating better, less painful. Her muscle mass having melted in recent months, the physical efforts were beginning to cost her. But there, between the drops, she felt lighter, almost gone. If Erik and Cathie had taken the time to raise their heads, her naked thinness would have pierced their eyes, her protruding ribs, her sharp elbows and the hole in his belly, her body so thin that she trembled at the slightest breath, they would have looked at their girl ghost, failing to touch the truth.

Maggie totally crossed the river in the carrier current, on the other side, she sat down and tried to take stock. If she went deeper into the forest now, when would they realize she was missing? She didn’t want to worry them, but something in there was consuming her, a force that unbalanced her while pushing her beyond the boundaries set by her family. When one is not armed for life, what escape route is there? When the abyss awaits you, where to hide? She plunged discreetly into the wood; For a long time, she did not meet anyone.

— Thomas, have you seen Maggie? inquired Cathie, who was handing her son a slice of pie.
— She doesn’t need to be watched, Mom!
— She must have stayed a bit behind, added Erik, as usual!

Thomas approached the water and picked up his sister’s small bundle of clothes. The shimmer of the sun on the undulating surface created flashes, blinded him. On the other bank, he thought he saw a small family set up to have a picnic as well. Parents and children sitting by the river had fun trying to ricochet. Their flat pebbles dipped unfailingly and yet they laughed.

The End

Maggie, vi har savnet dig i mange år allerede og alligevel havde vi ikke set dit ubehag. Jeg håber, at hvor du er nu, hviler du i fred.

Ethereal Stories: The Blue Hole

I

Have you ever had a friendly crush?
Someone you meet one day, by chance and after 5 minutes, you might as well have grown up together.
I consider myself a bit lonely and gruff. It takes time to tame me but when I met Mitch, it was as if he had walked into the fortified enclosure of my friendship with all the keys. There was no resistance. One moment I’m ordering a drink at the bar next to a stranger, and exactly 4 minutes later I’m screaming with laughter at the table with my best friend. That was 8 years ago and since then, not a week has gone by without us seeing each other, nor a summer without us going on vacation together.

My wife Carole gets along very well with his girlfriend Stephanie and we see each other as one big family. Our children are like brothers and sisters. And incredible vacations, we took some, Hawaii, New Caledonia, the coral reef in Belize, the sea atoll in the Maldives…
You see the theme here, I’m an avid scuba diver and Mitch is my instructor. Every year we look for a place where we can leave our little family on the beach and where we can explore the depths of the ocean.
I made phenomenal progress with him. We are starting to make deep spots. This year we are going to Egypt, on the edge of Damascus on the Red Sea. We will dive in the Blue Hole, a 120 meter deep basin nicknamed the divers’ cemetery. Not a corner for beginners but I’m not stupid and I’ll have the best of the best with me, my old Mitch. So there is no danger.

II

Arrived on the spot, the show is up to par. We are floating on the bluest, most translucent water I have ever seen. The sea goes from bright turquoise to dark navy above the tank without losing its transparency.
Mitch reminds me of essential security measures and adds:

“Okay man, let’s go. I’ve been here before and I’m really not kidding, it’s sublime but extremely dangerous. If you walk away, there is a kind of arch at the bottom which is a death trap. Above all, you don’t even try to go there. I’ll be right behind you but we stay careful. »

His fatherly tone makes me laugh. I solemnly pledge to be his obedient little disciple and not to let go of his hand, then we get ready.

It’s like floating in space. I have never seen anything so beautiful. We have incredible visibility. I see other divers tens of meters away, small particles suspended in the rays of the sun and schools of fish passing like silver rockets around us.
Mitch has pulled out his amphibious camera and is taking pictures. As he bustles around the fish, I begin to circle a little wider, that’s when I see the light a little further down. There is a huge arch and sunlight filters through. This must be the thing Mitch was talking about. We are very close, I tell myself that I will move forward a little. While staying at a very careful distance, I swim for a while and stop to enjoy the breathtaking spectacle. It’s gigantic, I miss the adjectives. I find myself in front of what seems to be the entrance to another world.
Imagine being floating in the heart of darkness when suddenly, a monumental arch opens in front of you from which emanates a soothing blue light. It is an unreal spectacle. In width alone, it must be around 25m. I stare at her for a moment.

There is something that stands out from the place, a feeling of serenity, of fullness. It makes your head spin a bit. I hear something, it starts slowly, like harmonies in the dull rumbling of the water, a kind of musical breath that gradually increases in intensity, like an orchestra tuning up.
I don’t know if it’s a phenomenon related to the shape of the structure, but it’s absolutely incredible. This music from the depths makes me want to laugh with happiness while bringing tears to my eyes.

I know it’s not necessary but I want to get a little closer. I have air reserves that can last a little over an hour, I risk nothing as long as I stay at a distance. I walk a little further and the music becomes louder, more catchy. Do I hear someone sing? Sounds like a woman’s voice.

III

My reverie is interrupted by a repetitive noise above my head. I look and I see that Mitch is back up, he is very high above me and he seems to be tapping his knife on the side of his bottles. As if to get someone’s attention, he gestures. He must try to communicate with the group of divers from earlier. Maybe they are in the field of his photos.
It’s a bit painful to look up after long minutes staring at the soft light of the depths. The sun through the surface is like an unpleasant spot in the eyes, it hurts the head.

Well, I promised Mitch to be careful, I decide to check my monitor. The sun blinds me, I struggle a little, I feel dizzy. I finally reach the box which beeps continuously. I didn’t pay attention but on the screen there are big letters flashing:

G O U P
G O U P?

Goup? It means nothing ! “Goup” is the funniest thing I’ve seen in my life. Goop when I tell Mitch that…

I try to focus on the numbers, but they fly by and I still chuckle at “Goup.”

OK better go back up. I head towards the light, I swim quietly, but the current pushes me aside, it’s more and more painful. The opening seems to be shrinking more and more. It’s weird.

The music is still there, louder. In the light I finally see her, the one who sings. She is a woman, she is naked and extremely pale. Her long hair floats around her like a huge halo. She’s so beautiful it feels like my heart is going to implode. I feel my eyes swell with tears.
The current continues to pull me away from her, to the side. She holds out her hand, her eyes are sad, I start to panic. You shouldn’t panic. Panic drastically reduces oxygen stores.

IV

Nothing make sense anymore. I realize that I, that I don’t think normally anymore. It’s getting harder and harder to fight. I feel like I’m swimming in thick mud and my aching brain is full of cotton wool.
I have a flash of lucidity, I activate the emergency button of my safety jacket to go back to the surface. I know it’s dangerous, that we have to take steps, but I will react in due time. For the moment the urgency is to go up quickly.

I hear the air filling my jacket but nothing happens. I don’t go back. The current continues to push me sideways. A shock ! I hit the side wall, I’m stuck against it. Holy shit, why won’t my jacket work? Why is there current in a closed basin?
I keep pressing the button with all my might

“Inflate you fucking inflate yourself! »

My monitor is screaming, I don’t recognize the sounds it is making. The screen flashes. The scrolling information might as well be written in Chinese. I do not understand anything anymore. The sound of air in my jacket slowed. I breathe harder and harder. I close my eyes.

” Nope “

I refuse to die like this. I think of Carole and the children. I want to find them. We have reserved a restaurant for this evening, there will be seafood, we will watch the sun go down before returning to the residence. Up close there is the sun, Up close there are people who love me. There is music, smells, life, what am I still doing here in the depths of darkness sleeping against stone?

In a last superhuman effort, I start kicking my legs as hard as I can. My muscles screaming in pain, I try to propel myself through this molasses. Each breath is more and more difficult, more and more painful. The sides of my field of vision darken. I scream in rage and frustration at my gear.
I hit the wall again. I am incapable of making the slightest gesture. I wait.
A faint blue glow appears. She approaches. God she is beautiful. How can she be so beautiful? She caresses my face.

I realize I’m not wearing my gear anymore. I’m naked too. I am breathing normally again. She opens her arms and I snuggle gratefully.
Mitch must have come back up now. He will explain to Carole, Everything will be fine. They can go to the restaurant without me. I’ll just rest a bit, just a minute or two and then I’ll join them. Everything will be alright. Everything will be alright.
With a big sigh, I close my eyes.

The End

Ethereal Stories: Mister Fog

As far back as I can remember, He’s always been there. When I was at the park with my parents, he was standing on the hill, when I was looking out my bedroom window, he was under the lamppost at the end of the street. He was very small because really far away, but I knew it was him. Mister Fog.

I don’t know at what age I gave him that name but it stuck. When we were in the car, I saw him several times along the way, always standing, always in grey, always far away. He was doing nothing but standing there, at a distance. I had called him Mister Fog because when I squint to see him better, his outlines became blurred and hazy.

One day while I was on a school trip, I told my friends about Mister Fog. The teacher heard me and told the class that I was making up stories. I got angry, I wasn’t making anything up, he was there, standing on the low wall at the end of the park, but everyone pretended not to see him and I got punished for telling a lie. My mother is worried, I had to go see a shrink who spoke to me as if I were a baby and I then decided to stop talking about Mister Fog, but he stayed. When I entered primary school, when Grandpa died, when I entered college… He was there every day of my life. If I looked into the distance, I knew that he would be faithful to the post there.
Which was oddly both frightening and reassuring.

It took me years to realize that he was getting closer. It was really subtle, a few centimeters a year I think. I was in high school when I realized that when I looked out my bedroom window, it was no longer under the lamp post at the end of the street but under the one before. It’s crazy that I didn’t hit it earlier but it was so progressive that it escaped me. I should have succeeded in distinguishing it better but its contours were still so blurred so that day I decided to go see it. I left the house and I walked towards him with a determined step without taking my eyes off him but without realizing it, arriving under the lamppost where he was standing when I crossed the threshold of my door. , he always stood at the same distance from me, at the level of the church square. I tried again to join him but again, without my understanding how he had maintained the distance between us, he was now on the other side of the cemetery so I gave up, contenting myself over the years to see that he was approaching very very slowly and then one day there was the accident.

I was in the car, tired from my day, on the way home that I knew by heart, I mechanically crossed a crossroads. When the light turned green, a blinding light and a horn made me turn my head to the right and there, a fraction of a second before the driver who had fried the game ran into me and everything went black. , I saw him, on the passenger seat, was sitting Mister Fog.

I woke up days later in a bad state, I couldn’t speak or move but I could see him, at my bedside standing by my bed, day and night without anyone worrying about it, nor the nurses , nor my family. Gradually doctors became more reassuring. I slowly recovered my motor skills and day by day, Mister Fog regained some distance, first one meter from my bed, then in the corner of the room and finally in the hallway.

Today I am 82 years old. He’s been standing in the room with me for several years. Although he never answers me, I talk to him like an old friend, knowing that the day he will be close enough to take my hand, it will be the last of my life.

An AI draws for you, soon the end of artists? !!!

You may have noticed that for some time now, my articles have been illustrated with paintings and that I have not posted any artist links in source. The simple reason is that they are mine. Finally from me with a little help, that of an AI: Midjourney.
Midjouney is an AI that creates paintings from a sequence of words that you give it.

Here are some examples:

To use it is very simple, just go to this address:

https://www.midjourney.com/home

Sign up with a discord account (a chat program) and start giving him instructions. There is a free demo and 2 subscription models to not be limited in the number of images generated.
He ends up generating 4 images, from there you can ask him to start over, to launch variants of an image he gave you so that he comes up with 4 others approaching it or upscale one of the results.

I used it recently to illustrate my articles. It is an interesting tool for me because even if I like to draw and paint, the time that I will spend making the illustrations would be time that I will not spend writing.
Until then I used google images but these are not necessarily copyright free and above all they are not original which is important to me.
The other solution could have been to go through an outside artist but this has a cost that unfortunately I cannot afford, especially when trying to post one article to you per week.

Hey, but Nilsa, are the artists going to disappear?

The answer is no, for several reasons:

  • The sequence of words that we use is of paramount importance to generate the images and depending on what we choose, the result can be very different. Then we choose an image among 4 that we choose to modify or not from the AI. Those are already artistic choices.
  • The images generated sometimes have bugs and would often need to be retouched so that they are less shocking to the eye.
Headless gorilla
  • Finally I think it can be a great tool for all designers / painters. Midjourney is a great way to get inspired and I think the images generated will mainly serve as a base for repainting over them as we already do with photos in what is called photobashing .

There are no copyright issues: is such a creation the property of the artist?

That’s a delicate subject. Not being a lawyer specializing in intellectual property, I would not be able to say who owns the image generated by code which is the intellectual property of the developers. Is it their property or is the AI ​​considered a mere tool and thus the ownership of the work produced belongs to the user of the AI?

I do not know enough about the law to be able to decide on the question but this one is very interesting. It would be necessary to search the CGU of Midjourney and I admit to you that I was a little lazy.

After when the artist repaints over the generated image, he appropriates the image and creates his own work and in this case the final rendering becomes his property.
As in photobashing, if you have repainted and modified the image enough so that we do not recognize the original photo used then there are no copyright concerns.

I am not sponsored for this article if I tell you about it it’s just that I find this tool really magical.

I know it’s different from what I usually do, but I hope you enjoyed this article.

Take care of yourself and your loved ones and see you soon.

Polpette: Italian meet balls

This weekend my sis was at home so sunday I did some italian food to celebrate her arrival, we watched The godfather, of which we know all the lines by heart. The theme of the evening being Italy, I cooked polpette for us. These are Italian meatballs, I hope you like the recipe.

Ingredients:

• 2 slices of stale bread, crust removed, cut into pieces
• 1 cup of milk
• 500g of premium minced beef
• 1 egg
• 1 handful of chopped parsley leaves
• 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
• 40g grated parmesan
• 2 teaspoons of salt
• 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
• 1 brown onion, chopped
• 1 garlic clove crushed with the back of a knife
• 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
• 150 ml of red wine
• 2 cans of crushed tomatoes
• 250ml of water
• 1/4 bell pepper, in one piece
• salt to taste

preparation:

  1. Soak bread in milk for about 10 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, mix the ground beef with 1 egg, salt and pepper, the chopped parsley, the tip of a teaspoon of grated nutmeg and the grated Parmigiano (or Grana Padano). Use a spoon if you fancy touching raw meat, but in my opinion, hands are your best cooking tools.
  3. Squeeze the milk from the bread, add it to the meat mixture and mix.
  4. Using the palm of your hand, roll the polpette the size of small tangerines and set aside in the fridge to firm up for 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, sauté the chopped onion and garlic in a little olive oil until the onion is tender and translucent.
  6. Add your meatballs and brown them on both sides, then add 1/2 cup red wine. Let the alcohol evaporate, then compose 1 bay leaf, a piece of green or red pepper (pepper) two cans of tomatoes and water. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer covered for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Adjust with salt and pepper. Add the basil leaves and serve with bread, mash or al dente pasta

Ethereal Stories: The Scream of The Banshee

Here is a little story that touches me a lot because there is a lot of me in it so I hope you’ll like it.

I

A shadow. Suspended above the void, I freeze. Breathe slowly, don’t move, don’t let go. Expect. Do not make noise. Behind me, Elton has stopped too. One minute, two, three, four. The shadow has not returned. Slowly, millimeter by millimeter, I advance my hand along the cable. I grab the next handle, then slide my whole body forward. The friction of my clothes against the metal causes slight vibrations that reverberate throughout the structure. I feel them under my skin, right down to my bones. Elton follows me. The platform is not very far away. The palms of my hands are sweaty, I need chalk. I tighten the grip of my legs then, feeling my way, I look for the bag attached to my harness, slip my fingers into it, grab some fine powder. It clings easily to the calluses and roughness of my hands. A few more meters before security.
I see the edge of the plateau, so close. With a contortion, I throw both my arms at him, grab the sharp edge of metal, and pull myself up on it, oblivious to the pain. On my knees, I catch my breath while Elton clings to his turn before collapsing next to me. A moment of calm, during which we both contemplate the great void that makes up the majority of our universe. It wasn’t always like that. I still remember very well what the city looked like before. Before my mother, before the creature, before fear, before death. Before secrets.

It is cloudy today, humid, and the mist is dense. The silhouettes of tall towers of corroded metal surround us, ghosts of the glory of the Hanging City. Rusty cables disappear into the gray of the sky, the remains of bridges sway gently in the cold, gloomy wind that glides over our skin and makes the hairs on our arms stand on end. The Hanging City, so beautiful, shining in the light of day, is nothing more than a rotting corpse, rotting at the slow rhythm of fear.
Elton pats me on the shoulder to make me turn to face him.

“Night will soon fall,” he signs. “Let’s hurry home. »

I nod. We get up, legs a little wobbly, then we approach the opening cut in the side of the tower. A bay window, surely, when the glass hadn’t yet shattered and disappeared, reduced to sharp dust. Cautiously, I step inside, Elton on my heels. Not much of the furniture remains, but the apartment must have been comfortable. Now it’s mostly depressing. And unsanitary. We sink into the bowels of the building, far into its depths, where the light is only a memory.
I light my torch, with which I sweep the shadows around me. The atmosphere is thick, the smell of humidity invades my nostrils, but I still prefer that to the mask. The walls, bare and dilapidated, torn in places, reveal their metal frame. Elton waves at me and points to a door to our right. We enter.

II

The apartment is not very big, in a surprising state of conservation. Most of the walls still have an identifiable color, which I hadn’t seen in a long time. I put my bag in a corner, scan the place of the eyes, before returning to Elton.

” So ?” he asks with gestures.
“It will be very good. »
He smiles at me, brushes his hand against my cheek.
” I will bring food. “

I nod and watch him walk away, then disappear into a narrow opening. I then begin to activate myself. I set up our meager possessions, the tent, the mattress, the blankets, the electric stove. We should be able to stay here at least a few days. I frown at our stash of batteries. It has never been so low, we will have to make an expedition to the towers of the northern zone. And the northern area is dangerous.
In the evening, we heat up one of the cans that Elton has brought back. Vegetables, no doubt, maybe ratatouille, it looks like it anyway. Elton cleans the pan while I make sure our bedding isn’t on a piece of ground that might collapse overnight.
I slip under the covers and Elton joins me. He settles against my back, caresses my hips with his hand, goes under my sweater to grab one of my breasts. I feel his hot breath on my neck, his erection against my ass. I shift, just enough to be able to take off my clothes. He kisses me, everywhere, on every piece of me that passes within his reach. I feel his lips burning on my skin, drawing marks of fire and making shivers of desire hatch in me that go up along my body.
Well, we’re both naked. I spread my legs and I feel him entering me, slowly, as he knows I like. I sigh, close my legs around him to pull him closer, arch my back, digging my fingers into his back. He accelerates, he always accelerates too soon. Never mind. I let myself be overwhelmed by the pleasure that I feel growing deep inside me. I scream. I bury my face in his neck and close my eyes. I can live like this until the end of time, with Elton inside me, forgetting the world and the fear.

A moment later, Elton is sleeping, his arms around me and his head in the crook of my shoulder. He always falls asleep like that, as if to protect me from the world, or maybe for me to protect him from what’s outside, I’m not sure. I stare at him for a long time. I wonder about him, about me. And as always, my mind drifts and ends up returning to the past. To my mother.

III

I was born deaf, a genetic anomaly whose name I have forgotten. It never really bothered me, because I didn’t know what I was missing, so I turned down the hearing aids. But my mother did not accept it. At that time, the Hanging City was at the height of its glory and its laboratories were state of the art. For years my mother worked on crossbreeding and genetic manipulation of guinea pigs to try to find a cure for my deafness. It did not work. And then one day there was an accident. One of her creatures mutated in a way she hadn’t expected, in a terrifying and destructive way. My mother was his first victim.

I don’t know exactly what species she encountered, but the result caused the downfall of the entire city. The creature fled and hid in the cloudy depths of the city. No one ever saw it, or no one lived long enough to tell. A shadow was just a shadow, impossible to find, impossible to eliminate. On the other hand, everyone heard him. And his cry became the nightmare of all that lived. For that scream was so horrible, so strange and monstrous, that it drove everyone who heard it mad. Most people preferred to die. Many are those who have jumped into the void. Some began to kill others. Madness or mercy, opinions are divided. They called her banshee, because nothing could protect her from her cry, that cry which brought death.
In the end, those who remained preferred to pierce their eardrums. In a few months, the Hanging City, the pride of men, a marvel of technology clinging to an endless cliff, sheltering several million souls, had become a ghost town, populated by a few hundred deaf people surviving as best they could. I might have laughed if it hadn’t been so tragic.

I feel Elton’s steady breathing against my ribs. He’s the only one who didn’t abandon me after the disaster caused by my mother. He had already learned sign language for me. When he took out his hearing with a few drops of acid so he couldn’t hear the banshee’s screams, he told me he didn’t see it as a sacrifice. I almost believed him.
To fall asleep, I think of my memories of the Hanging City, as it once was. Its sparkling towers, its white, wispy clouds, its air bridges that sway gently in the breeze. No one knew what was underneath and no one wanted to know. My mother said that the sea was there, I had chosen to believe her. As for knowing where above our heads the sheer wall on which we were clinging finally ended, everyone also did not know. Perhaps our ancestors knew this a long time ago, but this knowledge had been lost. Our world of metal and wind was enough for us. Some elders claimed that our people had come from the stars in the distant past, but these stories only served to make the youngest dream.
I think of the reflection of the sun on the chrome, of the slow swaying of the bridges under my feet, of the smell of snow on winter mornings. I think of things more easily than of people. It’s been two months since we’ve met anyone in the City, and I’m beginning to wonder if there’s only us left. Just Elton, me and the creature.

IV

I must have fallen asleep. When I wake up, Elton is no longer with me. He must have gone to search the surroundings to see if there are still objects that could be useful to us. We haven’t found much lately. Almost five years since the creature invaded us, perishable foodstuffs are becoming increasingly rare, and equipment in working order is beginning to look extraordinary. Yet we were good builders, I really would have thought our creations would last longer, at least long enough for the monster, fear, hunger or loneliness to kill us all.
I straighten up when a figure frames itself in front of the window opening, letting the covers slip off my shoulders. Elton raises an appreciative eyebrow, walks over to me, leans down to brush my lips with his.

“Get dressed,” he signs, “I think we’ll have to go to the northern zone. »
” I say. We’re almost out of batteries. “
“That’s not the only thing we’re missing. And the northern zone is the only one that has been almost spared since the disaster. “
“Because it is his territory. “
” Yes. “

We look at each other for a long time. We both know it’s dangerous, as we also know we have to go. Our survival depends on it.
The northern zone scares me. She scares everyone, but my reasons for fearing her are different. She scares me because of my secrets, she scares me because of the truth. And above all, she scares me because of Elton. But I can’t tell her, so I get dressed and, with a shiver, strap on my harness. We are going to the northern zone, we need it.
In the pale morning light, the City seems to have changed during the night. The wind has calmed down and the chrome of the towers shines in the sun like the torn chrysalises of oversized butterflies. The air is fresh, crisp, the cold grips without the rays of our star warming us up. I take a deep, almost painful breath, I hold my breath for a long moment before exhaling slowly. I check the straps of my harness, plunge my hands into the chalk bag. The shortest way will probably be to go through the lower floors.

V

I go first. It still is, I’m a much better climber than Elton, I better be the one testing our route. I’m very good at feeling good grips under my fingers and I have a good eye for sections of cables that are in danger of breaking.
With caution, I venture onto a piece of bridge that is still intact. With my toes, I test the solidity of the ground in front of me before moving forward. After a few tens of meters, the bridge disappears to make way for a maze of large rusty cables. Some are in better condition than others, I have to choose well. I run a hand over one of them, up to a huge rivet that I cling to. My other hand follows the same path to another rivet, on the other side of the cable. I secure my hold then hoist my legs up and wrap them around the steel rope. So, slowly, I drag my body along this uncertain line of life. Below me there is nothing but endless emptiness. I can’t afford any mistakes.

When I have progressed a few meters, I wave to Elton and he takes the same path after me. We move slowly, to the slow rhythm of our fear, the sweat running down our foreheads and into our collars. I regularly plunge my hands into the small pocket at my side. Magnesia is one of the things we’re starting to run out of and hope to find in the northern zone. Because without magnesia, there is no climbing, and if we can no longer climb and move along the cables, we will remain stuck on one of the towers, doomed to starve in a long agony.
Our progress is facilitated by the absence of wind and, a quarter of an hour later, we reach the next tower, a few floors below. With any luck, we will have reached the northern zone for lunch.
Around noon, we almost reach the goal. We crossed eight towers and descended a few hundred meters into the City. Here, the clouds are permanent and the sun’s rays struggle to pierce the thick misty layer to illuminate the sad surroundings.
I look at the dilapidated tower in front of me. The northern area is just on the other side, past a new chasm. I shiver, then jump when Elton’s hand lands on my arm.

“Ready?” he signs.

I nod and he shakes my hand briefly before walking past me. We step over a pile of rubble to get inside the building. Despite the lack of light outside, my eyes take a while to get used to the darkness. I don’t prefer to light my lamp here, not unless it’s really necessary.
It is an old hydroponic greenhouse. Its large windows are drowned in greenish mold. The automated systems must have survived for a while since some rows of plants are still green. The others are just cracked skeletons, some crumble into brown dust at the slightest touch. Elton has already stepped forward to pick those that can be eaten. It’s a valuable find, but I can’t help but find this display of half-dead plants gloomy. Roots ventured out of their domains in search of nutrients they couldn’t find, but that didn’t save them. They hang from the bins above our heads, brown and withered, making the place look like a huge spider lair.
It is however not the only greenhouse nor the first that I see. Devoid of any solid soil and cultivable land, the Hanging City subsisted exclusively thanks to greenhouses like this one, with others favoring agriculture by aquaponics or aeroponics.
We cross quickly, recovering on our way all that we find edible. I’m uncomfortable, I feel like hundreds of phantom eyes are looking at me and judging me. I am responsible for the state of the City, responsible for the dead who populate it. Me and my mother’s madness.

VI

“Sin? “

I focus my attention on Elton. I didn’t realize I had stopped. I have the impression that this is not the first time that he signs my first name without my reacting. I give her a smile and set off again, no need to worry her with my stories of ghosts and guilt.
The cable that should lead us to the northern zone is slippery, the descent is difficult. Every time my hands grip against the metal, I feel like I’m going to let go and fall into the void that awaits me like a voracious being below. Finally, we arrive.
I straighten up on the platform that I have just reached, look around me. It’s even darker here, the humidity clings to my skin, which no wind comes to dry. I don’t want to be there, I feel naked, exposed.
We move forward with caution. This is banshee territory. Elton wants us to split up, to cover more ground, to stay shorter. I hesitate, I’m afraid. He reassures me with gestures that make no sense in my blind fear. He moves away. I remain alone, alone with my secrets.
I have to pull myself together. I have a part of the tower to explore, if I want to be able to get away from here as soon as possible. I start moving again, walking slowly towards the back of the hall in front of me.

Suddenly, something moves, on the periphery of my vision. A form, which appeared then disappeared. I freeze, my heartbeat echoing in my head like the pounding of fear. Wide-eyed, I wait. Another movement, perceived out of the corner of the eye. And then, a cry, echo of the dead it contains, tearing of an endless agony. Then she is in front of me, still far away and yet so close.
She doesn’t look much human anymore. Her long hair forms a shroud around her slender, pale limbs. She looks wet, as if her skin is oozing thick liquid. Even at this distance, its smell is strong, the smell of the sea, of fresh iodine. The yellow-green tint of his skin gives him a sickly appearance, the darker green of his hair makes one think of a sheaf of seaweed torn by the tide. She looks like a drowned woman, come back from the dead to take us with her.
The creature didn’t kill my mother, I always knew that. I was in the lab that day, the day of the disaster. I don’t know what she injected. She had no human guinea pig other than herself, no other choice in her obsession. It didn’t work out the way she had planned. My mother became the banshee.
I never told anyone. This secret, I kept it deep inside me for all these years, certain that it would be my downfall, the end of everything. I ran away from the laboratory, I told that my mother was dead. Then I fled, as far away from her as I could. Far from the truth.

For a very long moment, we remain facing each other, separated by the large empty and dark room. We look at each other. In some of her features, I still recognize my mother, the one who raised me, who watched me grow, who loved me. And what does she see when she looks at me? Does she even recognize me?
She doesn’t move, seems frozen, anchored to the ground, her bulging eyes with huge pupils fixed on me.
Footsteps behind my back. Elton. I feel panic rising in me. No no no ! Not now ! They grabbed me by the clothes to pull me back. I let myself go, eyes still riveted on her.
Elton drags me to the outer platform and then starts shaking me, his eyes full of storm. He then lets go of me so he can sign violently, his face twisted.
“Sin! What is that ? It’s the banshee, it’s her, isn’t it? It’s your mother, I’m not blind, it’s her! You knew it ? Tell me you didn’t know that! »
I don’t answer. What could I tell him? He will forgive me, he has always forgiven me. He continues to gesticulate, screaming silently with his hands. I am watching him. He’s no longer afraid of the banshee, now that he knows the truth. No longer afraid of her scream either, since he is deaf. He’s not scared anymore, but he’s angry like I’ve never seen him before. A doubt grips me. What if he didn’t forgive me this time?
A howl rings out behind me, so mournful, full of unspeakable pain, like the song of the end of the world, the sound of the victory of death over life. I turn quickly. She is there, at the entrance to the tower, looking at us with her shark eyes, cruel and soulless. She seems to be waiting for something, or maybe someone. Maybe it’s me she’s been waiting for, she’s always been waiting for me.

I turn to Elton again. He’s calmed down, he’s looking at me funny. His eyes go from me to the creature, then to me again. I’ve never seen that expression on his face. Very slowly, he raises his hands and asks the one question that shouldn’t be asked.
“Sin, you hear, don’t you? You heard her scream, that’s why you turned around. You couldn’t know otherwise. »
I don’t know what to say to him, but he doesn’t need to. He understands that it is the truth. I’ve been hearing for five years. Five years since the scream of the banshee gave me back my hearing. From my mother’s first scream, that scream that drove others crazy gave me back the sense I was missing. I’m the only one to hear beauty over death. She wasn’t so insane, my mother, after all. His experiments eventually paid off. She healed my ears, as she had hoped, even though it didn’t happen as she had planned.
Elton stares at me, as if seeing me for the first time. As if he didn’t know me. As if he didn’t like this stranger in front of him, this stranger lying to him. I don’t like his look, I don’t like what I see in his eyes. That hurts me. His eyes always said he loved me. Now they say he’s gonna leave me too.
I raise my hands, caress his cheeks, place them tenderly on his chest and smile at him. Then, with force, I push him.
He doesn’t let out a scream as he topples over and falls into the endless abyss, as if he’s forgotten how to use his voice. His eyes no longer seem to want to leave me, they only express surprise, the immense astonishment of death. It’s better, better than the eyes that leave me. And very quickly, it disappears in the clouds.
I stare into space for a moment, staring at the slice of mist in which I lost him. My eyes then return to my hands. They don’t shake, it’s strange. I turn to my mother. She is still waiting for me. Very well. At least I won’t be alone.

The End

Ethereal Stories: Night Club Awakening

In the early morning, the nightclub had nothing of its superb. Lieutenant Hansen pushed aside the protective strips that barred the entrance, clumsily placed by a policeman who was unaccustomed to crime scenes. He hadn’t had time to drink coffee, having been woken much too early by the sergeant’s call. He’d just put on his clothes, grabbed the car keys, and arrived on the scene as his watch hand hit six o’clock. Not an hour to start the day this way, he thought, rubbing his eyes at the remnants of his hangover.
Once through the anonymous doors, in front of which a nonchalant cat had replaced the line of revelers waiting their turn to enter, it took him a few moments to adjust his gaze to the semi-darkness that reigned in the room. Under the gray light falling from a ventilator, the track looked seedy. Lieutenant Hansen moved quickly towards the back of the room, without lingering on the bar on his right and its mirrors, which only reflected emptiness. Hard to believe in the silence that weighed on the place, that a few hours earlier, a crowd of people moved in the middle of the track, moving to the hypnotic rhythm of techno hits, while others came and went from the bar with a drink in hand, after yelling their order to the bartender who nodded his head to signify that he had understood.
A discreet door opened at the end of the room on the spaces reserved for the personnel. Brigadier Andersen was waiting for Hansen:

«Hello my lieutenant. It’s this way.
“Hello Andersen.
– I warn you, it’s not a pretty sight. »

Hansen made a vague wave of his hand, to signify that he had seen others.
The two men entered a corridor which led to several doors.

« It’s at the bottom, my lieutenant. In the boss’s office. He had finished closing, and he went to look for his car keys in his office, like every day. That’s where he came across… the corpse. »

The door was ajar. You could hear men talking behind. Hansen pushed open the door cautiously. At the same time, three gendarmes turned their gaze towards the newcomer, and greeted him briefly, as if conviviality could have no place in such circumstances. The lieutenant’s gaze was immediately drawn to the figure lying on the ground. A woman, as the brigadier had told him. Still, his heartbeat quickened as if he hadn’t expected it.
With her sequined dress pulled up to the top of her thighs, her cheap shoes with oversized heels lying on the floor and her hair dishevelled, she looked like a stranded wreck, thrown up by the sea like trash.

Hansen closed his eyes for a moment. A flash. The same woman dancing with a greedy frenzy in the middle of other dancers. Men pressed against her, irresistibly attracted by her provocative swaying, her eyes full of innuendo, her seductive mouth. The lieutenant chased away the image. The woman now had her eyes half-closed, with a frightening stare. Purple markings marbled his pale neck.

« Strangled?” Hansen asked in a voice that sounded weaker than he wanted.
– Affirmative, my lieutenant. »

Andersen, who had remained in the background, took a few steps towards him. “We have started the surveys. The body should soon be taken away for examination by the coroner. The team should arrive soon. We didn’t touch anything, of course, but in my opinion, it’s strangulation, we have no trace of blood.

« And the boss, asked Hansen with a dry throat. Where is the boss?
– To the gendarmerie, my lieutenant. Fergusen takes his statement.
– Good,” Hansen said. Then, not knowing what to say, he repeated, “Good, good.” »

To keep himself in countenance, he took a few steps towards the victim. The headache that had been smoldering since he woke up now rumbled furiously between his temples. Hansen wondered again what had gotten him such a hangover. He really had no memory of his evening. It was happening to him more and more often lately, and if he had never ended up in the salad cart of his colleagues, he had to thank the lucky star that was watching over him. I have to stop my bullshit, he thought, looking at the woman who had gone too far, there was no turning back.
Mechanically, his gaze went around the room, and he immediately noticed discreet but very real traces of struggle. Papers had slipped on the floor. An ashtray was overturned not far from the victim.

«The boss of the club is our main suspect, of course,” continued the brigadier, who did not seem to have noticed his superior’s slight discomfort. Or an employee who would have had access to the premises.

  • Was the office locked?
  • I don’t know, Lieutenant. You will have to ask the owner the question.
    “Let’s go out,” Hansen said. There are five of us suffocating in this room. »

The two men retreated onto the dance floor. The blind walls, without the illusion of the play of lights, were squalid, coated with a dark paint peeling and stained with various splinters. The broom that had been used to clean the floor sat in a corner, next to the pile of dust that no one had bothered to pick up.

«I wish I had a little black one,” Hansen said, feeling his legs wobble.

– What’s wrong, Lieutenant? Anderson asked. You are quite pale. »

Hansen gestured that he wanted out. The room revolved around him. Dull shocks hammered his skull. Boom, boom, boom. He put his hand on the sergeant’s shoulder for support. He closed his eyes again. A new flash. The woman was there, right next to him, laughing lasciviously. Around her, the other dancers melted into an indistinct blur. The deafening music stunned Hansen with its repeated pounding. The woman had grabbed the lapel of his jacket, and was pulling him towards him.
The cool early morning air made her open her eyes. Andersen watched him with worried eyes.

“Are you all right, my lieutenant?”

– Yes, Andersen, it’s better. A moment of fatigue. The night was short, I believe. »